Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is announcing a voluntary "co-operative capital markets regulatory system," an attempt at arranging a single securities regulator in Canada.
Canada has been under pressure for years — both at home and from abroad — to replace the patchwork system of provincial regulators for stocks and bonds with one national watchdog.
- Should Canada have a single national securities regulator?
Two years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that task is easier said than done because a unilateral move by Ottawa would violate provincial jurisdictions guaranteed under the Constitution.
As a result, Flaherty is moving ahead with the provinces that are onside.
Flanked by his counterparts from British Columbia and Ontario, Flaherty invited all provinces to join in the new system.
Alberta and Quebec have been most vocal in defending their jurisdiction over securities. Quebec's finance minister is expected to respond to Thursday's announcement shortly after 11:30 a.m. ET.
Francois Legault, leader of the opposition party Coalition Avenir Quebec, said Thursday morning his party was opposed to the deal and asked, "why change a winning combination?"
"I think it's unanimous all parties are against this [national plan]," he said. "We will fight against this proposal."
To avoid jurisdictional bickering, the new "co-operative capital markets regulatory system" will:
- Have provinces that agree to join amend their provincial securities legislation to be uniform across the board. That means the provinces will agree to regulate in the same way, without ceding jurisdiction to the federal government.
- An "expert board of directors" will run the regulatory system, but it will be overseen by a council of ministers with each participating jurisdiction represented.
- Each participant gets to maintain offices in its own province.
Flaherty says this proposal has not yet been put to the other provinces.